Are You Maximising Your Strengths in the Workplace?
I used to believe that our strengths are simply skills or capabilities that we are good at… but I’ve learnt that this viewpoint doesn’t paint the full picture. Our strengths should energise, motivate and excite us when we are using them for the task at hand. When we’re passionate about what we’re doing, and performing brilliantly, feeling as though we’re in the zone, it’s a sign that a strength is present and active.
Of course, we can be simply good at something, but we shouldn’t consider it a strength if we find it boring or draining - this won’t unlock our passion or full our greatest potential.
If you’ve heard me share my Olympic journey, then it won’t surprise you that my strengths centre around strategic+analytical thinking and goal achievement. I am driven by learning and a focus on excellence (craft mastery), and I have a strong sense of responsibility and personal accountability. When I’m actively using these attributes, I find myself more energised and engaged in the task at hand, regardless of whether it’s in business, sport or life!
So how can you enhance your strengths in the workplace? The first step is to identify them. Strengths can be technical, tactical, physical, emotional, interpersonal, or character-based. You can contemplate them yourself, ask others for specific feedback, or use online tools.
For leaders: using an online strength report can be a great tool to unlock deeper conversations with your team - individually and collectively. What motivates and excites people, and how can you expose individuals to more situations where they can harness their strengths and gain new experiences. Encourage employees to share their strengths with each other, so they can feel good about their own strengths and gain greater understanding and respect for the strengths in others. This can help strengthen relationships and assist teams to work better together. Research shows that strength-focused work has been shown to increase employee engagement, job satisfaction, wellbeing, productivity, and goal achievement.
For individuals: find ways to intentionally use more of your strengths in your daily work. You can raise your awareness of how often you are using your strengths by doing an end of day strengths mini-audit, or by listing down examples of your recent ‘strengths in action’ in a journal. This stimulates your self belief and optimism and serves as a constant reminder to keep using your strengths more regularly.
Next, try to actively use your strengths in moments of discomfort - when you are nervous, unsure, needing more courage, overwhelmed, etc… Ask yourself, “which of my strengths would help me right now?” Challenge yourself to investigate three, and then get creative on how you could use them to ease or solve the problem at hand.
For example, when I’m feeling stuck or challenged, I try to draw on my analytical strength. I ask myself questions, such as what are my options, what are the pros and cons of each outcome, who could I ask for advice that’s been through a similar experience, what are three most important factors I must consider and what should success realistically look like for this situation. I will often play with different scenarios too, using an “if this, then that” approach.
When we understand our own strengths, we open ourselves up to further appreciate the breadth, depth and value of others strengths in the workplace too. So look out for win:win opportunities to marry your strengths together with your colleagues, to elevate your job satisfaction and to increase your ability to deliver higher quality outcomes.
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